[Baltimore Sun] General Assembly left unfinished business on crime, budget; lessons to be learned from college protests | READER COMMENTARIES

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Sen. Ready: These remain two biggest concerns going forward

At midnight on April 8, the 2024 Maryland General Assembly session officially came to a close. It’s a great honor to serve Carroll County as well as the Frederick County portion of Mount Airy in the state Senate.

In the 90-day session, we dealt with dozens of subjects. However, two main areas received the most focus — crime and budget/taxation policies. For me and other Republican senators, these remain areas of biggest concern moving forward.

First, I’ll discuss crime. For the last several years, Republicans in Annapolis have tried to work with the Democratic Party supermajority in a bipartisan manner to address violent crime plaguing our state.

We did see progress this session with legislation that will reverse some of the “juvenile justice reform” policies. Those policies actually have made it harder to hold juveniles accountable for criminal behavior, and particularly difficult to get younger offenders into services.

However, despite serious crime concerns continuing in the Baltimore region, Democratic Party leaders in Annapolis, particularly in the House of Delegates, refused to pass legislation to ensure jail time for repeat, violent criminals. They wouldn’t even take the basic step of passing a clean bill to make theft and possession of stolen firearms a felony with serious jail time.

Instead, Annapolis’ liberal establishment remains focused on going after law-abiding citizens and their 2nd Amendment rights. We saw this with ridiculous proposals to require expensive insurance policies for people with carry permits and a push to nearly double the sales tax on firearms, ammunition and accessories.

Thankfully, those were defeated, but passage of the so-called Gun Industry Accountability Act (HB 947) subjects firearm manufacturers and retailers in Maryland and other states to frivolous taxpayer-funded government lawsuits that will do nothing to stop criminal activity.

Although there was some modest steps on crime overall, the General Assembly must go much further to put bad guys behind bars and give our prosecutors and law enforcement the tools they need. This session was a slight shift toward the right direction, but we must keep working in the coming years to truly protect Marylanders.

Second, the state’s budget and the potential for huge tax increases dominated the 2024 session. For the past several years, the General Assembly has passed bills with massive, long-term spending mandates — which we have opposed.

For example, the Kirwan Commission Blueprint, which was passed a few years ago, increases K-12 education funding by $38 billion over the next 10 years — without a way to pay for it. Republicans argued that this was an unsustainable mandate — with no accountability for actual results.

Now, it’s clear that these mandated spending increases will surpass our tax revenue in the coming years, which means we need to either cut or at least slow down increases in spending or have to raise taxes. Marylanders suffering under the effect of high inflation cannot afford a greater tax burden.

Even Gov. Wes Moore has said that one of the biggest problems Maryland faces is how expensive it is to live here. In the coming months as we prepare for the next session, I will continue to advocate for a “live within our means” approach to state government.

It is possible — in fact quite doable — to keep our state budget balanced and modestly increase investment for important priorities like education, transportation and public safety. We simply have to re-prioritize and slow down the rate of spending growth. As we move forward, I will do my best to keep the community updated and I welcome comments and questions anytime.

Justin Ready

The writer is a state senator representing District 5

Recent column does disservice to Trump

This is in response to Tom Zirpoli’s recent column “GOP hypocrisy regarding college protesters.” Zirpoli states when antisemitic, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville in 2017 yelling anti-Jewish slogans, former President Donald Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides.” That’s a lie.

When Trump referred to “very fine people on both sides” he was talking about the citizens of Charlottesville debating to not remove the Civil War monuments, not the Neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Regardless, this was the perfect opportunity for the hate Trump Democrats and self-righteous mainstream media to take the Neo-Nazis marching and shouting at the University of Virginia. They deliberately homogenized it with Trump’s Civil War monument debate comments, to vilify and berate Trump as supporting Neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Now we have tens of thousands of pro-Hamas demonstrators destroying property, yelling anti-American and antisemitic slogans and Zirpoli states most of the students are peacefully protesting. And for that, I say “thank you” for standing up against what will likely become a crime against humanity.

To his credit, Zirpoli stated 30% to 60% of those arrested were not affiliated with the colleges. So, I guess we have peaceful protesters, except when we have violent rioters.

Biden’s patronizing policies toward Iran, like failure to enforce existing economic sanctions, paying $6 billion for five hostages, etc., are directly responsible for Hamas attacking Israel. And even though there was no war in the Middle East when Trump was president, Zirpoli still uses Trump’s name 16 times trying to insert him into this mayhem; that’s a red herring.

All the disorder and violence on college campuses shows we have lost control of our colleges and universities. Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said Stanford only accepts 22% white students; 11% male and 11% female.

Instead of indoctrinating students with DEI colleges should actually teach history and political science, so students understand the consequences of what happens when people invade a sovereign nation and rape, kidnap and murder 1,200 of is citizens.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, but it’s not covering your head with a Palestine flag, hiding your face with a mask, yelling antisemitic/anti-American rhetoric, blocking students from attending class and disrupting graduation ceremonies.

The lesson is what Sir Author “Bomber” Harris, the British Air Chief Marshal during WWII, said about the Germans, “They sowed the wind and now they will reap the whirlwind.” Hamas sowed the wind and now they are reaping the whirlwind.

Carl Burdette, Westminster

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